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Chester County Press

Editorial: The last summer of their youth

06/19/2018 11:05AM ● By Richard Gaw
On June 12, as reported in this issue of the Chester County Press, Avon Grove High School held its 90th annual commencement exercises, before a capacity audience of family and friends at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

The event featured six student speeches, all of which were well-written and nicely presented, with different themes that called for passion, unity, reflection and, in an eloquent speech by Senior Speaker Benjamin James, the need to consider what is most important in life.

Yet, we feel that one speech in particular rose above the rest.

“Keep an Open Mind,” delivered by class valedictorian Devin Trinter, was a refreshing, amusing and self-depricating take on what it is like to arrive at a high-water mark of one's youth – high school graduation – with only the unknown of a wide-open future ahead. Mr. Trinter's words were perfect: For the recent graduates of Avon Grove, Unionville, Kennett and Oxford high schools, they exist in a momentary limbo state between what has been learned, known and accepted, and the tabula rasa of a future that has yet to see its first words or its first splotch of color. For them, it is the last summer of their youth, but to Trinter, it's the first page of a long invitation to a brilliant future that will likely close and reopen several doors along the way.

With the author's permission, we share an abbreviated version of his speech:

Class of 2018, look around and take in this moment. You don’t have to literally look around, you know what the people around you look like, but take in the surreality of this moment. In just a little bit, we will all be high school graduates, and not just any old high school graduate. Studies show that this class, the Class of 2018, is the greatest graduating class Avon Grove High School has ever had and will ever see!

We all entered high school pretty much the same: naive, small, probably annoying, maybe a little gross, or at least I was, but over the past four years, we found our way, found new friends, found new interests, and whether you worked your butt off over these years, or just cruised through, it doesn’t really matter, because we now all find ourselves at the same point in our lives: Ready to face the future.

This is a daunting place to be. Many of us will soon be cast off to experience the world for ourselves, and while some may have a general plan or goal for what their future will be, others may not have a clue, and that is fine.

Let me assure you, and many of the parents and other adults in the crowd can attest to this, what you see your life goal to be now is quite likely to change in the years to come.

You may be halfway through a college degree before realizing that’s not even what you want to learn. You could be out of college working your current dream job and realize that this is not the life for you. You could almost retired before realizing your true passion in life.

We looked at the data, and many well known people had a career shift: Jeff Bezos, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Colonel Sanders, the President. And if this change in future never comes, and you become what you wish to be at this moment, that’s fantastic, good for you, but if you do find yourself in the situation of wanting something different, don’t treat it as a failure that you didn’t achieve what you planned for yourself. Sure, it may be disappointing to not live up to what you wished for. But rather, treat such a situation as a time to grow and explore new possibilities.

Your dream of becoming an engineer today doesn’t mean you can’t end up becoming a chemist, a surgeon, a lawyer. You could become a trash man, a coconut farmer, or someone who sells pickled goods and calls himself the Pickleman. These last three are all things I wanted to be in the past. The point is, the possibilities are limitless. So keep an open mind because your future can always change.

Congratulations Class of 2018, and I wish you the best of luck and much success in whatever the future holds for you.  

Devin Trinter will attend the University of California-Berkeley this fall, where he will study chemical biology.